EDUCATING AND HOSTING IN SAFE ENVIRONMENTS
“Safe – Educating and Hosting in Safe Environments” – is a project co-financed by the European Union and is led by the Association Community Pope John XXIII and partners with the Italian Azione Cattolica, the Italian Sports Centre, the Department of Sociology of the University of Bologna and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Research on Victims and Safety (CIRVIS). This project sees the partners engaged in a two-year path from November 2019 to November 2021.
The general objective of the Project is therefore to create a culture of prevention of abuse and training for the protection of children and vulnerable people, through the promotion of safe environments and respectful and responsible interpersonal relationships, both in environments aimed at social protection and recreation in sport and leisure.
The project will combine analysis, development, training and awareness raising activities. By combining these methods, the project will generate a comprehensive and in-depth knowledge of the issues examined, providing a solid scientific basis for educational and reception activities with children in social protection, sport and leisure.
Considering the complexity and delicacy of the Project, the Partners’ consortium has decided to entrust the evaluation of the effectiveness of its impact with respect to the actions undertaken to a multidisciplinary team of university professors and researchers from the Departments of Education Sciences and Economics and Law of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Piacenza.
SAFE responds to the priority of promoting the integration of child protection policies in different contexts and sectors, such as sports organizations, extracurricular activities and/or recreational/leisure organizations for children (including religious, women’s, scout and private schools), both as a means to protect and safeguard children and to provide staff with the necessary training and guidance, in accordance with the “Keeping Children Safe” standards.
SAFE is a national project but with a high potential transnational impact. It was developed thanks to the great experience of the Association Community Pope John XXIII in dealing with vulnerable and abused children, in close collaboration with various experts such as psychologists, pedagogues, social workers, lawyers, academics. National and regional ombudsmen for children (https:/www.garanteinfanzia.org/) have expressed their appreciation and willingness for concrete involvement in the planned activities with formal letters of commitment. According to Article 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Minors against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention), adequate awareness and knowledge of the issue must be ensured among people who have regular contact with children in the areas of education, health, social protection, justice and law enforcement and in areas related to sports, culture and recreation. SAFE will contribute to the implementation of this article in Italy through extensive training sessions in 27 provinces of 13 Italian regions reaching 1200 people including local leaders, professionals and volunteers of religious organizations who have regular contact with more than 46,300 children.
See the video presentation of the project:
Supporting the integration of child protection policies in Italian religious organisations, in order to gain awareness that the implementation of such policies is a fundamental step for protection as prevention and custody.
Ensure an effective Training Package to detect, report and prevent abuse, for people who have regular contact with children in the areas of education and social protection and in areas related to sport and recreation.
EXPECTED RESULTS OF THE PROJECT
Increased awareness and ability to prevent, detect and report child abuse by at least 400 local leaders and 800 members and volunteers of Pontifical Law Associations and 60 members of the police forces of 27 Italian territories.
Increased awareness among all Italian religious organisations involved in child care, sports and recreational activities on how to prevent, identify and report child abuse through an effective child protection policy.
THREE WORKING TRACKS
PROTECTION POLICY: FROM ORIENTATION TO ETHICS
The associations involved in the Project will formalise the adoption of a policy to protect children and vulnerable people. The adoption and application of a specific protection policy will ensure the transition from guidelines that inspire actions and activities to prevention and reporting practices and tools, which are more necessary than ever because of the delicacy and preciousness of the educational contexts in which the three organisations operate. In fact, these are informal educational contexts of great importance to ensure the healthy growth of children and young people. The objective of the Project is therefore to support both the elaboration of the protection policy in the three organisations and its integration in the ordinary training courses for the development of activities and the safety of the environment. The Child Protection Policy guarantees compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Ten Principles for Integrated Child Protection Systems, and aims to ensure the best interests of the child.
TRAINING AS PROMOTION OF CHILD SAFEGUARDING IN ASSOCIATIVE REALITIES
Between October 2020 and April 2021 training courses will be activated in 27 national territories, divided among the three partners of the Project in relation to the presence of its members.
Each territorial path will last 18 hours, divided into three modules of 6 hours each. The training course aims to promote the acquisition and sharing of expertise at three levels of Child safeguarding in the members of the three organisations:
– Safe-self: feeling free from the risk of incurring any kind of abusing dynamics to sharing, open communication, supervision;
– Safe community: to put at the centre of community experiences the quality of style and care for interpersonal relationships and the environments in which they develop;
– Safe organization: recognize as a protection factor the sharing of associative codes of conduct, prevention as a broad and proactive structural intervention.
Three training modules, three thematic focuses, one for each module.
1. ABUSE, BETWEEN INJURY AND CRIME. We learn to recognise it, to prevent it.
2. THE RELIABLE ADULT: A PATH TO MATURE INTIMACY.
3. SHARED WORDS TO TELL SOMETHING INTIMATE. The protection of minors between welcoming wounds and promoting generative communication.
The training course will be scientifically supported by the report produced by the Department of Sociology of the University of Bologna with the Interdisciplinary Centre for Research on Victims and Safety.
The same Department will provide training for students of the Master’s Degree Course in Criminological and Investigative Sciences and for the police forces of some Italian territories, involved in the investigation of crimes related to training issues.
The Project therefore has a systemic approach, connecting the different contexts inhabited by minors – family, sport, group – in which it is necessary to implement protection in a preventive way, and in the contexts of reporting and support to victims.
COMMUNICATION: PROMOTING A CULTURE OF PROTECTION OF MINORS AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE
Safe as a project intends to promote in the Church and in society a culture of protection of minors and vulnerable people by creating an open and transparent communication structure. We believe that knowing how to deal openly with sensitive issues such as dignity, respect, relationship, responsibility, power, intimacy, sexuality, violence and abuse is a challenge that cannot be postponed because of the current educational emergency.
Promoting cultural change through information and awareness raising, starting with the media themselves.
This will be expressed and supported by spaces for in-depth analysis and dialogue through columns and monthly articles on the Stadium page of Avvenire and the radio programme “Sport, health and education” on Radio Maria, edited by the CSI.
The social channels of each partner will be different environments for the dissemination of the initiatives and contents promoted by the Project.
INNOVATIVE ASPECTS OF THE PROJECT
TEAMWORK IN THE PROTECTION OF MINORS IN CHURCH ENVIRONMENTS
With the Magisterium of its last three Pontiffs, the Catholic Church has embarked on a growing journey with regard to the protection of minors and vulnerable people. This path, as is well highlighted in Pope Francis’ Motu Propriu “You are the light of the world”, calls for a renewal of the whole community. The Dicastery for the Laity, Life and the Family has invited the movements and associations to embark on paths of prevention and to equip themselves with adequate instruments for reporting and combating all forms of abuse. In 2019, the Italian Church adopted new Guidelines and an articulated structure at diocesan level, as requested by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Innovative therefore is the choice to walk together in responding to the call to the protection of minors as requested by the Church itself. It is a team effort, starting from a shared formative path with a view to promoting a custody of the little ones that is increasingly consolidated in the culture of attention and responsibility, in the educational style and in the practices for good acting and guaranteeing security.
The project involves children, in accordance with Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, in the implementation and design of the Child Protection Policy. The participation of children and young people will be inclusive, voluntary, meaningful, transparent and appropriate. Children and young people will have the means, the space, the opportunity to freely express their opinions, which will be given due weight according to their age and maturity. The involvement of children and young people from different backgrounds is encouraged to ensure the representation of all experiences, ideas and thoughts in the process of their participation. The Pope John XXIII Community, as lead body, will therefore organise three workshops involving children and young people from different age groups to better understand their point of view and give them the right to have their voice heard, to be heard seriously and to be able to influence decisions that affect them. The book “KIKO AND THE HAND”, provided by the Council of Europe as part of the Campaign against Child Abuse “One to Five” will be used as a support tool in working with children.
“HOW BEAUTIFUL WE ARE! I FEEL, I THINK, I ACT.”
WORKSHOP CONDUCTED WITH MINORS 6-11 YEARS OLD
One concrete example of this involvement described above was the course conducted with children aged 6-11 years, during the Summer Centre, held in Cesena from 24 to 28 August 2020, entitled ” How beautiful we are! Travelling with Don Oreste and… fairy Lina. I feel, I think, I act.”
Five days, where among playful and expressive activities, moments of listening to themselves and others, the children had the opportunity to discover themselves beautiful, unique, important and learn some important things to feel good with themselves and others: our intimacy, thoughts, emotions, stories, our body is precious… “It’s not easy to tell everyone”… “Sometimes it’s not right”… “We have to find the people we trust”.
A synthesis of this path can be seen in this video: